Anthony Hinds (based on the book “The Werewolf of Paris” by Guy Endore)
Clifford Evans as Don Alfredo Corledo
Oliver Reed as Leon Corledo
Yvonne Romain as Servant Girl (Jailer's Daughter)
Catherine Feller as Cristina Fernando
Anthony Dawson as Marques Siniestro
A beggar (Richard Wordsworth) visits the cruel and pretentious Marques Siniestro (Anthony Dawson), and is imprisoned in the dungeon. Ultimately, that man ends up raping a beautiful, mute girl (Yvonne Romain). She kills the wicked Marques and escapes, and is found by the kind Don Alfredo Corledo (Clifford Evans), who along with his wife cares for her. They soon discover her to be pregnant, and she gives birth to a boy, Leon, but dies in labor. As a child, they soon learn that Leon is is a werewolf. But, their love ultimately leads to the monster inside staying at bay. Leon (Oliver Reed) grows up to be a healthy, strong, and seemingly normal man. He ends up falling for the Cristina (Catherine Feller), the pretty daughter of the man he works for. But, a full moon night of drinking and loose women let the beast inside free and the killing begins.
This lush production of The Curse of the Werewolf is truly among the finest in all of Hammer’s filmography. Sure it’s slow moving, as it takes a good hour before the werewolf makes his hidden, onscreen appearance, but it is very rich in plot and storyline. This first series of attacks are shown off-screen, but the aftermath can be bloody and violent, and the last ten minutes are undeniably exciting. Hammer veteran Terrance Fisher (The Curse of Frankenstein, The Horror of Dracula) keeps his direction tight, and it really shines here, in particular, with great use of shadows and sustained suspense.
The Curse of the Werewolf takes great care in setting up a back-story and giving the audience characters to care about. There is some great tension built around the characters thanks to excellent performances by the entire cast. Regardless of the overall excellent job by all cast members, this is Reed’s movie, and he truly shines in it. His character is very sympathetic – Yet when he is transforming or has transformed he has a deadly animalistic energy to him that makes him truly threatening.
The theme of love being the only way to control or cure the beast is certainly an interesting idea, and one that combined with the period piece clothing and setting give Curse of the Werewolf a rich and romantic feeling, without ever dwindling the horror of it. The werewolf itself is one of the finest looking werewolves in cinema history, thanks to make-up FX master Roy Ashton’s amazing work.
This film still holds up today and can carry multiple viewings. Any person interested in Hammer films or great, classic horror simply must see this one. This is among the very best of the werewolf creature features, eclipsed only by Joe Dante’s seminal The Howling. In all, The Curse of the Werewolf is classic horror in every sense of the word.